Rashmi Rekha Das

A day before Niladri Bije, three deities Lord Balabhadra, Jagannath and Goddess Subhadra were offered ‘Adhara Pana’ on the chariots on Monday night.

As the name suggests, Adhara Pana is a ritual of offering a special drink 'pana'. 

Going by the tradition, nine large open mouth clay pitchers (three on each chariot) were kept in front of the deities touching the lips of the idols. Each pot contained 100 litres of a mixture of milk cream, cheese, sugar, banana, camphor, nutmeg, black pepper and other such spices. The ritual was held atop three chariots of the three deities-Nandighosha, Taladhwaja and Devadalana.

The priests offered the drink in the pitchers to the Trinity after performing ‘Sodosha Upachar Pooja’. The pots are kept in such a way that they should touch the lips of the deities. Soon after the offering late in the night, the earthen pots were broken on the chariots spilling the entire drink on the platform. 

Legend has it that numerous spirits, ghostly bodies and souls trailed the deities during the Rath Yatra and they are eagerly waiting this moment to get ‘mokshya’  or salvation by partaking of the holy drink. That’s why these pots are broken to liberate the souls, spirits and other invisible beings residing in the chariots.

Earlier, 12 clay pots were used for the purpose. However, servitors now reduced the number of pots to nine to serve the pana.

A large number of crowds gathered on Grand Road to witness the ritual.

It is learnt that Sri Jagannath Temple Administration, Raghab Das Mutt and Badaodia Mutt take the responsibility of arranging the pots manufactured by the potters of Kumbharpada. 

The drink is not meant for human consumption. The refreshment is only meant for the deities, who stayed on the chariots during Rath Yatra to guard Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra which is why they are known as ‘Rath Rakhyak’. Devotees are forbidden to partake it.